Every year, over 35 billion invoices are sent in Europe alone. As invoicing moves into the digital world, there will be fewer white envelopes waiting for us at our doorstep. The question is, how to make invoices a more valuable channel for businesses – and less tedious for consumers? Posti’s Inka Touru is developing a smarter solution.
Smarter technology, smarter invoices
As companies shift to electronic invoicing, consumers are getting invoices through many different channels. PDFs sent to our e-mails, e-banking solutions, or those tedious white envelopes – with an extra fee now being charged for the paper invoice. It can be tricky to keep track of. With so many bills sent to us every month, we’d have greater peace of mind being able to manage them in just one place.
Luckily, Inka Touru is helping consumers and businesses to navigate through the jungle of bills. Inka is aProduct Manager for Digital Services at Posti, and together with her team she’s building a new tool forcompanies to communicate with their customers through invoices. Posti’s solution is called Smart Invoice , and it will be launched this summer as a feature of OmaPosti.
“OmaPosti is the one single channel for customers to handle their mundane day-to-day business.OmaPosti will collect all your invoices in one place and make it simple for you to make payments,” Touru promises.
OmaPosti has been developed based on consumer interviews and company insights. For consumers, the greatest value of OmaPosti is that it will gather all invoices to one place. Even though electronic invoices are convenient, not all invoices can yet be received in an electronic format. That’s why many invoices still arrive by paper, e-mail or to Netposti.
“If you could see all your bills in the same place and even get reminders of the due dates, it would be handy for consumers,” Touru says.
OmaPosti will also enable archiving of previous bills, so even if you’re changing banks, for instance, your invoices will stay in your archive and you don’t lose them.
Every invoice can be a customer channel
At the moment, many companies prefer e-mail invoices due to their cost-efficiency. The problem is, as we pay our e-invoices, we don’t normally even look at the invoice itself or any messages that come with it, as so many electronic invoices are automated.
“Invoices are currently not very interesting marketing spots for companies. But why couldn’t an invoice be a channel for exceeding customer expectations, and building a dialogue with your customers, just like any other digital service?”
Posti’s new service is fixing this blind spot by making invoices interactive. Smart Invoice will enable adding intelligent service elements to invoices, so that customers can easily ask questions about an invoice or other services when paying the bill. Similarly, companies can ask about customer satisfaction or add live chat to their invoices. Problems can be solved immediately if they arise, and companies can reach their customers in a new channel.
“In addition to enabling interactive elements, OmaPosti is also a much more cyber-secure way to send invoices and other customer messages compared to e-mail. That’s one reason many governmental institutions are our customers,” Touru says.
Accelerating the shift towards personalized marketing
Smart Invoice , to be launched in the summer, takes a leap towards more intelligent invoicing. But in the future, invoices are likely to become more proactive and personalized based on behavior traits and data.
Touru believes this will mean better service for consumers, and more effective targeting for companies. In her view, making the invoicing process less tedious can be the last mile of creating a great customer experience.
“I’m excited about developing concepts that combine marketing with creating value for customers, so that both consumers and companies benefit from them. Smart Invoice is a good example of that!”
In the future, Touru’s dream is to develop even more intelligent and personalized digital marketing tools for companies. Using data for better targeting of ads serves both the consumer and the company.
“In Smart Invoice , there will be a spot for ads that are highly targeted. But we are aiming for completely personalized targeting so that companies could send individual offers as add-ons to invoices. It means better service for consumers and more value for companies – everybody wins!”